By Lope C. Robredillo, SThD
The “Our Lady of the Rosary Museum of Religion and Culture” in Guiuan, constructed from late 2014 to early 2015 by Msgr Lope Robredillo, then Moderator of the Team Ministry (2009-2015) of the Immaculate Conception Parish, formally opened on May 25, 2015 after it was blessed by the Most Rev. Crispin B. Varquez, Bishop of Borongan.
But the question that is probably foremost in many people’s mind is—what’s inside?
Sources of Funds
Before answering that question, it is important to know what made the dream to have it become a reality. Contrary to what is sometimes heard from a few, the Museum was constructed mainly from donations, proceeds from the “gala” of town and parish fiesta, and from funds of the parish.
Some details may be in order. The biggest individual donors were Congressman and Mrs Ben Evardone (P50,000) and Ms Susan Rallestan (25,000) in 2012. But the initial fund came from “gala” of Vespers Dance in 2010 when the family of the late Generoso Juaban was the hermano mayor (P94,850). The Museum also got some cash from the “gala” of Oct 1, 2011 Vespers Dance (P14,600) and that of Dec 8, 2011 (P6,380). That same year, the Pastors and the Staff Workers of the Convento held a caroling for a few nights before Christmas and reaped P63,600.
By March 13, 2013, the parish office had an accumulated donations of P74,610.83 from many parishioners whose names were read at Sunday masses. Dollar donations from individuals in the US amounting to $609, forwarded to the office by Mrs Praxedes Gonzales, and an offering of $400 from Dr Fernando Naputo swelled the fund by P45,744.36. On June 28, 2014, a biggest accumulation of donations from many donors whose names were likewise read at mass, plus interest in the bank, amounted to P345,995.93. Other donations in the total amount of P17,100, given thru Emma Terencio, were also intended for the Museum.
Another source of fund was the superavit from Stational Masses. When Commissioner Marcelino and Mrs Elda Libanan were the hermano mayor in the town and parish fiesta of Oct 6, 2013, there was a superavit of P48,500 that was earmarked for the project. So, too, with the superavit of P66,000 during the 2014 fiesta, although there was no hermano mayor. Moreover, there was the fund from the old cemetery that was deposited in the bank. As of Feb 18. 2015, the fund stood at P253,130. From this date until Apr 28, 2015, P19,000 was added to it. Further augmenting the fund were the “limosan” boxes that yielded P75,343.12 on Dec 31, 1914 and P14,049 on Mar 25, 2015.
The total fund for the Museum ultimately reached P1,213,903.71. However, as the detailed financial report on its construction shows, the total expenditures, which include materials and labor, added up to 1,351,704.14.
In turning now to the exhibits displayed at the Museum, there are basically two classes of materials that are arranged: church-related paraphernalia and materials associated with the Liberation period when American forces were stationed in Guiuan.
Of the church-related paraphernalia, the majority of them are liturgical. Prominently shown as one enters the Museum are three monstrances encased in glass, mounted on pedestals. Together with the image of Elizabeth of Hungary placed in similar casement, they constitute the centerpiece of the Museum, enclosed by parts of the old communion rail that serves as their fence. Also belonging to the category of liturgical vessels are chalices, incensario and naveta, paten, and similar accessories.
Among the most valuable, one might also mention the center altar card in which are written some parts of the Mass, that used to stand at the center of the altar and covered the tabernacle. It goes back to the Jesuit period of the Church history in the Philippines. The carroza, whose original design dates back to the Spanish time, is the only one in the entire province.
Counted among the old liturgical books that one can see is the pre-Vatican II Latin Missal, that was used during the time of Msgr Donato Guimbaolibot, who was tortured in connection with the Balangiga Massacre. There is also a copy of the first printed Order of Mass in Samarenyo, containing the first songs in the native language, used after Vatican II. Displayed, too, are novenas that were printed during the pre-American period.
Speaking of books, the Museum boasts of possessing the oldest parish Register of Death in the entire Diocese of Borongan that can be traced back to the 1700s. It has also the oldest Books of Baptism, Marriage and Confirmation in the parish.
One can also see a replica of a pre-Vatican II altar. It was constructed to show how the stainless ramilletes, the only ones found in the whole diocese, were used. The altar itself dons some of the tiles that used to cover the inside walls of the old church. Above the tabernacle of this altar is installed the image of Our Lady of the Rosary, flanked by images of two angels bearing torches. The other remilletes are displayed along with candle holders in the middle of the second section of the Museum.
Of the textiles, carefully arranged are chasubles of various colors, stoles, chalice veils, humeral veils, among others. Of the several pictures one can see, there are photographs of the several parish priests since the time of Msgr Guimbalibot, pictures of the church before and after Yolanda, and those taken after the strong typhoon in 1897 when the old church was rendered roofless.
As for objects related to the presence of the American forces in Guiuan in 1945, many of the collection pertain to kitchen wares. Also on display is a short history of the town of Guiuan, written by Msgr Robredillo, as a very general introductory. But of the rare natural objects that one can encounter in the Museum, most easily recognizable are the giant clams that were found in the mountain of Sulangan. Of course, there are other objects that one can see in the Museum, apart from those already referred to, but these are probably enough to whet one’s appetite for cultural curiosity and study.
In fine, the collection would not have been enriched without the generosity of some people, like Mr Elmer Garado, Father Manuel Lunario, the late Mrs Fe Dadul, Mr Fidel Delleva, Mrs Joan Magalona, Mrs Elena Cablao, Mr and Mrs Teofilo Flores, Ms Teresita Lomero, Ms Jennyrose Barlomento, Mrs Marciana Alde, Mrs Belen Abusman, Father Raymund Tabon, OSJ, Father Joberto Picardal and the Moderator of the Team Ministry of 2015.